Public Release: 

Hearing restoration and visual cues

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

In a study on the activation of auditory brain regions by visual cues, researchers report auditory neural activity associated with improvement in speech comprehension in patients with cochlear implants (CI) for hearing loss. In deaf individuals, auditory brain regions can become sensitive to visual stimuli, a phenomenon known as cross-modal plasticity. However, previous research has suggested that cross-modal plasticity can impede hearing restoration in deaf individuals with CI. Carly Anderson and colleagues examined visually stimulated cross-modal activation of auditory brain regions in 15 deaf adults, 36-78 years of age, before and 6 months after cochlear implantation. Using functional near-infrared spectroscopy, a noninvasive optical neuroimaging method, the authors measured activation patterns in the participants' auditory brain regions during a lip-reading task before and after cochlear implantation. In contrast to previous reports, the authors found that increased activation of auditory brain regions by visual speech was associated with improved speech comprehension after cochlear implantation. Moreover, enhanced responsiveness of auditory brain regions to auditory speech was not dependent on a decrease in cross-modal activation to visual speech. Instead, auditory cortex activation by auditory and visual speech developed in tandem following cochlear implantation. According to the authors, the findings might have implications for hearing restoration in patients with CI.

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Article #17-04785: "Adaptive benefit of cross-modal plasticity following cochlear implantation in deaf adults," by Carly Anderson, Ian Wiggins, Pádraig Kitterick, and Douglas Hartley.

MEDIA CONTACT: Carly Anderson, National Institute for Health Research Nottingham Biomedical Research Centre, UNITED KINGDOM; tel: +07756143216; e-mail: <carly.anderson2@nottingham.ac.uk>

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